Toto Wolff believes Formula 1 is returning to “normality” with the gap between the frontrunners close and Mercedes no longer dominant.
Mercedes won 32 out of 38 races during 2014 and ’15 and won the first four races of this season. Red Bull triumphed in Spain, although both Mercedes retired on the first lap, and was on course for victory on pure pace in Monaco before a pit stop mix-up.
Mercedes locked out the front row in Canada, with Lewis Hamilton on pole, but Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was only 0.178 seconds adrift with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was a tenth and a half further back.
“We are coming back to normality,” said Mercedes chief Wolff. “We were in a lucky situation for two years to be the dominant team. Now what we are seeing is the gaps between the top three or four teams is shrinking.
“This is the reason we are all here. My feeling is that is pretty much the normal situation now.”
Wolff said it is clear the gap has been closed on what is a power-sensitive circuit in Montreal and that Ferrari’s pace in Canada over one lap is keeping Mercedes on its toes.
“We have looked at last year’s pace difference and it was around five tenths,” he said. “It’s a power sensitive circuit but it’s a circuit which is a bit difficult on the tires.
“On Saturday, it was about getting the tire working in the right window. Is the time representative? Maybe the theoretical lap is representative, 1m12.6s for Mercedes, 1m12.9s for Ferrari, but that’s academic.
“It doesn’t count. They are just shy of two tenths off us and that will keep us on our toes.”